The Ticketing SNAFU... and what we can learn

I'm taking a quick break from my tactical analysis to provide a quick analysis/editorial of ticketing and allocations.  And remember, you can't spell "analysis" without "anal"...

We now know a few things about yesterday's Cascadia "Summit" ticketing clusterf***:
1) The promised "two-game passes" for both Sounders matches were doomed from the beginning and were seemingly never actually sold.  There was some sort of "issue" with Ticketmaster and it has all been tied to the "inventory" of Friday night's Timbers match tickets being rapidly depleted.  Official explanations have left many unsatisfied, but when you break it down it seems Ticketmaster had a significant systemic error.
Who To Blame: Ticketmaster.  We all love to hate those guys, don't we...?

2) The Vancouver "allocation" was never actually "allocated" and Whitecaps fans sent to Ticketmaster to buy tickets were trying to buy from the pool of tickets available to the general public on a first-come, first-serve basis.  The Whitcaps' FO apparently really had no clue what they were doing, at one point even telling people to call Starfire, which of course has no ticketing operation of its own.
Who To Blame: The Vancouver Whitecaps FO, obviously...

3) There was no assurance that any remaining tickets were going to Sounders fans.  for clarity, lets review the official press release:

All matches will be played at the Starfire Sports Stadium. Tickets are $10 for each day and go on sale February 1 at SoundersFC.com, Ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000.  There is a two-day Sounders FC package for $18 that is good for both Seattle matches. No ticket is necessary for the Supporters Event/Coaches Forum.
Portland and Vancouver supporters will each be allotted 500 tickets in specific sections for their matches with Sounders FC. For the Whitecaps FC-Timbers match, each group will be allotted 1,300 seats, with 500 for Seattle fans. Seating is limited.

So what we know is that tickets were allocated to away supporters, and to Seattle fans for he Van.-Port. match on Saturday.  All other tickets were available on, as stated above, a first-come, first-serve, general public sale.  The Sounders FO may have directed people to Ticketmaster on a release on Soundersfc.com, but anyone with an internet connection could grab those tickets... anyone from Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, or Timbuktu.  In hindsight, it seems as though a block of those tickets should have been held for season ticket holders (STH's) and supporter groups (SG's).
Who To Blame: the Seattle Sounders FC FO...

So lets take a minute to think about what these allocations mean, exactly.  When it is said that 500 tickets will be "allocated" to a specific club, the direct implication is that there is some sort of mechanism in place to ensure that those tickets are going to supporters of that club only.  For all Cascadia matches, there are a limited number of single-match tickets available to the general public - in the case of the regular season matches most of the tickets will already be spoken for by STH's and/or SG's, and in the case of these Starfire matches there is the small size and very limited capacity of the facility. 

There is no mechanism in place to ensure the distribution of these "general public" tickets.  Anyone with an internet connection or phone can acquire these tickets, regardless of affiliation.  As for the "allocations", if the club releases these to be sold on Ticketmaster, there is no way to ensure their distribution.  Initially, it was believed that the Vancouver allocation was released to Ticketmaster; but this has since been found to be untrue and it seems as though the lack of communication was quite egregious.  Given all of this, it is quite feasible that there were quite a few Portland fans, either wary of their chances at acquiring one of the 500/1300 in their allocation, and/or not really understanding what was happening, went and bought tickets from the general public pool as well.  Clearly demand was very high, and those waiting for some resolution to the 2-game package problems found themselves left out in the cold when it came to acquiring tickets to the Portland match. 

If anyone was a little hazy on exactly why the 500-ticket allocations for the regular-season Cascadia matches will be run through SG's then yesterday's events may help explain it.  As an ECS member it is already quite clear to me that I will acquire my tickets to the Portland and Vancouver away matches through the ECS.  I will admit to being somewhat sympathetic to those interested in attending those matches who aren't members of SG's, but you do have options, and I hope it is a little clearer as to exactly why it is being done this way. 

This brings us to another point that needs to be made.  As we have seen, the Sounders/Ticketmaster don't always get it right when it comes to STH sales.  For the CCL matches last year, you had the option, in an STH-only "presale", of buying up your seats for which you had season tickets.  For some reason - perhaps driven by unfounded paranoia they couldn't draw a full house- "they" scrapped this method for the USOC Final, and made the STH-only "presale" essentially a free-for-all.  Anyone with a STH account could buy up to 8 tickets anywhere in the stadium, which left many people dismayed that they couldn't get their own seats and left many people quite rightly upset they couldn't get into the GA sections for the match. 

All this begs the question.  Why is it proving so hard to get these things right?  There were certainly many people left quite upset by the STH renewal process this past November/December, and a clear trend is establishing itself: Sounders ticketing is proving to be a snafu...

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